Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh

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Prince Philip
Duke of Edinburgh (more)
photograph of Prince Philip
1992 portrait by Allan Warren
Consort of the British monarch
Tenure 6 February 1952 –
9 April 2021
Born Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark
(1921-06-10)June 10, 1921[fn 1]
Mon Repos, Corfu, Greece
Died April 9, 2021(2021-04-09) (aged 99)
Windsor Castle, United Kingdom
Spouse Elizabeth II (m. 1947)
Father Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark
Mother Princess Alice of Battenberg
Signature Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh's signature

Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh (born Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark,[1] 10 June 1921[fn 1]9 April 2021) was a member of the British royal family as the husband of Queen Elizabeth II. A member of the House of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg, Philip was born into the Greek and Danish royal families. He was born in Greece but his family was exiled from the country when he was still an infant. After being educated in France, Germany, and the United Kingdom, he joined the British Royal Navy in 1939, at the age of 18. From July 1939, he began corresponding with the 13-year-old Princess Elizabeth (his third cousin through Queen Victoria and second cousin once removed through Christian IX of Denmark) whom he had first met in 1934. During World War II he served with the Mediterranean and Pacific fleets.

After the war, Philip was granted permission by George VI to marry Elizabeth. Before the official announcement of their engagement, he abandoned his Greek and Danish royal titles and became a naturalised British subject, adopting the surname Mountbatten from his maternal grandparents. After an engagement of five months, he married Elizabeth on 20 November 1947. Just before the wedding, the King granted him the style of "His Royal Highness" and the title Duke of Edinburgh. Philip left active military service when Elizabeth became Queen in 1952, having reached the rank of commander. His wife made him a prince of the United Kingdom in 1957.

Philip has four children with Elizabeth: Prince Charles, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew, and Prince Edward. He has eight grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. Through a British Order in Council issued in 1960, descendants of Philip and Elizabeth not bearing royal styles and titles can use the surname Mountbatten-Windsor, which has also been used by some members of the royal family who do hold titles, such as Charles and Anne.

A keen sports enthusiast, Philip helped develop the equestrian event of carriage driving. He is a patron of over 800 organisations and serves as chairman of the Duke of Edinburgh's Award scheme for people aged 14 to 24.

Early life

Mon Repos, the birthplace of Philip

Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark was born in Mon Repos on the Greek island of Corfu on 10 June 1921, the only son and fifth and final child of Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark and Princess Alice of Battenberg.[2] Philip's four elder sisters were Margarita, Theodora, Cecilie, and Sophie. He was baptised into the Greek Orthodox Church. His godparents were Queen Olga of Greece (his paternal grandmother) and the Mayor of Corfu.[3]

Shortly after Philip's birth, his maternal grandfather, Prince Louis of Battenberg, then known as Louis Mountbatten, Marquess of Milford Haven, died in London. Louis was a naturalised British citizen, who, after a career in the Royal Navy, had renounced his German titles and adopted the surname Mountbatten during the First World War. After visiting London for the memorial, Philip and his mother returned to Greece where Prince Andrew had remained behind to command an army division embroiled in the Greco-Turkish War (1919–1922).[4]

The war went badly for Greece, and the Turks made large gains. On 22 September 1922, Philip's uncle, King Constantine I, was forced to abdicate, and the new military government arrested Prince Andrew, along with others. The commander of the army, General Georgios Hatzianestis, and five senior politicians were executed. Prince Andrew's life was believed to be in danger, and Alice was under surveillance. In December, a revolutionary court banished Prince Andrew from Greece for life.[5] The British naval vessel HMS Calypso evacuated Prince Andrew's family, with Philip being carried to safety in a cot made from a fruit box. Philip's family went to France, where they settled in the Paris suburb of Saint-Cloud in a house lent to them by his aunt, Princess George of Greece and Denmark.[6]

Because he left the country as a baby, he does not have a strong grasp of Greek. In 1992 Philip said that he "could understand a certain amount of" the language.[7]



Philip studied at Gordonstoun school, Scotland.

Philip was first educated at an American school in Paris run by Donald MacJannet, who described Philip as a "rugged, boisterous ... but always remarkably polite" boy.[8] In 1928, he was sent to Britain to attend Cheam School, living with his maternal grandmother at Kensington Palace and his uncle, George Mountbatten, 2nd Marquess of Milford Haven, at Lynden Manor in Bray, Berkshire.[9] In the next three years, his four sisters married German princes and moved to Germany, his mother was placed in an asylum after being diagnosed with schizophrenia,[10] and his father moved to a small flat in Monte Carlo. Philip had little contact with his mother for the remainder of his childhood.[11] In 1933, he was sent to Schule Schloss Salem in Germany, which had the "advantage of saving school fees" because it was owned by the family of his brother-in-law, Berthold, Margrave of Baden.[12] With the rise of Nazism in Germany, Salem's Jewish founder, Kurt Hahn, fled persecution and founded Gordonstoun school in Scotland. After two terms at Salem, Philip moved to Gordonstoun.[13] In 1937, his sister Cecilie, her husband (Georg Donatus, Hereditary Grand Duke of Hesse), her two young sons and her mother-in-law were killed in an air crash at Ostend; Philip, then sixteen years old, attended the funeral in Darmstadt.[14] The following year, his uncle and guardian Lord Milford Haven died of cancer of the bone marrow.[15]

Naval and wartime service

After leaving Gordonstoun in 1939, Prince Philip joined the Royal Navy, graduating the next year from the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, as the best cadet in his course.[16] During the Second World War, he continued to serve in the British forces, while two of his brothers-in-law, Prince Christopher of Hesse and Berthold, Margrave of Baden, fought on the opposing German side.[17] He was commissioned as a midshipman in January 1940. Philip spent four months on the battleship HMS Ramillies, protecting convoys of the Australian Expeditionary Force in the Indian Ocean, followed by shorter postings on HMS Kent, on HMS Shropshire and in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). After the invasion of Greece by Italy in October 1940, he was transferred from the Indian Ocean to the battleship HMS Valiant in the Mediterranean Fleet.[18]

HMS Valiant
Philip served aboard HMS Valiant in the Battle of the Mediterranean.

Among other engagements, Philip was involved in the Battle of Crete, and was mentioned in despatches for his service during the Battle of Cape Matapan, in which he controlled the battleship's searchlights. He was also awarded the Greek War Cross of Valour.[16] Duties of lesser glory included stoking the boilers of the troop transport ship RMS Empress of Russia.[19] He was promoted to sub-lieutenant after a series of courses at Portsmouth in which he gained the top grade in four out of five sections of the qualifying examination.[20] In June 1942, he was appointed to the V and W class destroyer and flotilla leader, HMS Wallace, which was involved in convoy escort tasks on the east coast of Britain, as well as the allied invasion of Sicily.[21]

Promotion to lieutenant followed on 16 July 1942. In October of the same year he became first lieutenant of HMS Wallace, at 21 years old one of the youngest first lieutenants in the Royal Navy. During the invasion of Sicily, in July 1943, as second in command of HMS Wallace, he saved his ship from a night bomber attack. He devised a plan to launch a raft with smoke floats that successfully distracted the bombers allowing the ship to slip away unnoticed.[21] In 1944, he moved on to the new destroyer, HMS Whelp, where he saw service with the British Pacific Fleet in the 27th Destroyer Flotilla.[22][23] He was present in Tokyo Bay when the instrument of Japanese surrender was signed. In January 1946, Philip returned to the United Kingdom on the Whelp, and was posted as an instructor at HMS Royal Arthur, the Petty Officers' School in Corsham, Wiltshire.[24]


Philip's monogram

In 1939, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth toured the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth. During the visit, the Queen and Earl Mountbatten asked Philip to escort the King's two daughters, Elizabeth and Margaret, who were Philip's third cousins through Queen Victoria, and second cousins once removed through King Christian IX of Denmark.[25] Elizabeth fell in love with Philip and they began to exchange letters when she was thirteen.[26] Eventually, in the summer of 1946, Philip asked the King for his daughter's hand in marriage. The King granted his request, provided that any formal engagement be delayed until Elizabeth's twenty-first birthday the following April.[27] By March 1947, Philip had abandoned his Greek and Danish royal titles, had adopted the surname Mountbatten from his mother's family, and had become a naturalised British subject.[fn 2] The engagement was announced to the public on 10 July 1947.[28] Though Philip appeared "always to have regarded himself as an Anglican",[29] and had attended Anglican services with his classmates and relations in England, and throughout his Royal Navy days, Archbishop of Canterbury Geoffrey Fisher wanted to "regularise" Philip's position by officially receiving him into the Church of England,[30] which he did in October 1947.[31] The day preceding his wedding, King George VI bestowed the style His Royal Highness on Philip and, on the morning of the wedding, 20 November 1947, he was made the Duke of Edinburgh, Earl of Merioneth, and Baron Greenwich of Greenwich in the County of London.[32]

Philip and Elizabeth were married in a ceremony at Westminster Abbey, recorded and broadcast by BBC radio to 200 million people around the world.[33] However, in post-war Britain, it was not acceptable for any of the Duke of Edinburgh's German relations to be invited to the wedding, including Philip's three surviving sisters, all of whom had married German princes, some of them with Nazi connections. After their marriage, the Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh took up residence at Clarence House. Their first two children were born: Prince Charles in 1948 and Princess Anne in 1950.

Philip returned to the navy after his honeymoon, at first in a desk job at the Admiralty, and later on a staff course at the Naval Staff College, Greenwich.[16] From 1949, he was stationed in Malta (residing at Villa Guardamangia) after being posted as the first lieutenant of the destroyer HMS Chequers, the lead ship of the 1st Destroyer Flotilla in the Mediterranean Fleet.[34] On 16 July 1950, he was promoted lieutenant commander and given command of the frigate HMS Magpie.[35][36] He was promoted to commander in 1952,[16] but his active naval career ended in July 1951.[37][38]

With the King in ill health, Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh were both appointed to the Privy Council on 4 November 1951, after a coast-to-coast tour of Canada. At the end of January 1952, Philip and his wife set out on a tour of the Commonwealth. On 6 February 1952, when they were in Kenya, Elizabeth's father died and she became queen. It was Philip who broke the news of her father's death to Elizabeth at Sagana Lodge, and the royal party immediately returned to the United Kingdom.[39]

Consort of the Queen

Coronation portrait of Queen Elizabeth II with the Duke of Edinburgh, June 1953

Royal house

The accession of Elizabeth to the throne brought up the question of the name of the royal house. The Duke's uncle, Louis Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma, advocated the name House of Mountbatten, as Elizabeth would typically have taken Philip's last name on marriage; however, when Queen Mary, Elizabeth's paternal grandmother, heard of this suggestion, she informed the British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who himself later advised the Queen to issue a royal proclamation declaring that the royal house was to remain known as the House of Windsor. Churchill's strong personal antipathy to Lord Mountbatten, whom he considered a dangerous and subversive rival who had lost India, may have contributed to this. The Duke privately complained, "I am nothing but a bloody amoeba. I am the only man in the country not allowed to give his name to his own children."[40]

On 8 February 1960, several years after the death of Queen Mary and the resignation of Churchill, the Queen issued an Order in Council declaring that the surname of male-line descendants of the Duke and the Queen who are not styled as Royal Highness, or titled as Prince or Princess, was to be Mountbatten-Windsor.[41] While it seems the Queen had "absolutely set her heart" on such a change and had it in mind for some time, it occurred only eleven days before the birth of Prince Andrew (19 February), and only after three months of protracted correspondence between the constitutional expert Edward Iwi (who averred that, without such a change, the royal child would be born with "the Badge of Bastardy") and the Prime Minister Harold Macmillan (who attempted, ultimately unsuccessfully, to rebuff Iwi).[42]

After her accession to the throne, the Queen also announced that the Duke was to have "place, pre-eminence and precedence" next to her "on all occasions and in all meetings, except where otherwise provided by Act of Parliament". This meant the Duke took precedence over his son, the Prince of Wales, except, officially, in the British parliament. In fact, however, he attends Parliament only when escorting the Queen for the annual State Opening of Parliament, where he walks and sits beside her.[43]

Contrary to rumours over the years, the Queen and Duke are said by insiders to have had a strong relationship throughout their marriage, despite the challenges of Elizabeth's reign.[44][45] The Queen referred to Prince Philip in a speech on the occasion of her Diamond Jubilee in 2012 as her "constant strength and guide".[45]

Duties and milestones

As consort to the Queen, Philip supported his wife in her new duties as sovereign, accompanying her to ceremonies such as the State Opening of Parliament in various countries, state dinners, and tours abroad. As Chairman of the Coronation Commission, he was the first member of the royal family to fly in a helicopter, visiting the troops that were to take part in the ceremony.[46] Philip was not crowned in the service, but knelt before Elizabeth, with her hands enclosing his, and swore to be her "liege man of life and limb".[47]

Prince Philip visits Brisbane, Australia, in 1954

In the early 1950s, his sister-in-law, Princess Margaret, considered marrying a divorced older man, Peter Townsend and the press accused Philip of being hostile to the match. "I haven't done anything," he complained. Philip had not interfered, preferring to stay out of other people's love lives.[48] Eventually, Margaret and Townsend parted. For six months, over 1953–54, Philip and Elizabeth toured the Commonwealth; again their children were left in the United Kingdom.[49]

In 1956, the Duke, with Kurt Hahn, founded the Duke of Edinburgh's Award in order to give young people "a sense of responsibility to themselves and their communities". In the same year, he also established the Commonwealth Study Conferences. From 1956 to 1957, Philip travelled around the world aboard the newly commissioned HMY Britannia, during which he opened the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne and visited the Antarctic. The Queen and the children remained in the UK. On the return leg of the journey, Philip's private secretary, Mike Parker, was sued for divorce by his wife. As with Townsend, the press still portrayed divorce as a scandal and eventually Parker resigned. He later said that the Duke was very supportive and "the Queen was wonderful throughout. She regarded divorce as a sadness, not a hanging offence."[50] In a public show of support, the Queen created Parker a Commander of the Royal Victorian Order.[51]

Further press reports claimed that the Queen and the Duke were drifting apart, which enraged the Duke and dismayed the Queen, who issued a strongly worded denial.[52] On 22 February 1957, she granted her husband the style and title of a Prince of the United Kingdom by Letters Patent, restoring the princely status that he had formally renounced ten years earlier. On the same date, it was gazetted that he was to be known as "His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh".[53]

Philip was appointed to the Queen's Privy Council for Canada on 14 October 1957, taking his Oath of Allegiance before the Queen in person at her Canadian residence, Rideau Hall.[54] In Canada in 1969, Philip spoke about his views on republicanism:

"It is a complete misconception to imagine that the monarchy exists in the interests of the monarch. It doesn't. It exists in the interests of the people. If at any time any nation decides that the system is unacceptable, then it is up to them to change it."[55]

Prince Philip at the opening of the World Championship Coach-and-fours (1982)

Philip is patron of some 800 organisations, particularly focused on the environment, industry, sport, and education. He served as UK President of the World Wildlife Fund from 1961 to 1982, International President from 1981, and President Emeritus from 1996. He is patron of The Work Foundation, was President of the International Equestrian Federation from 1964 to 1986, and has served as Chancellor of the Universities of Cambridge, Edinburgh, Salford, and Wales.[56]

At the beginning of 1981, Philip wrote to his eldest son, Charles, counselling him to make up his mind to either propose to Lady Diana Spencer or break off their courtship.[57] Charles felt pressured by his father to make a decision and did so, proposing to Diana in February.[58] They married six months later.

Photograph by Allan Warren, 1992

By 1992, the marriage of the Prince and Princess of Wales had broken down. The Queen and Philip hosted a meeting between Charles and Diana, trying to effect a reconciliation, but without success.[59] Philip wrote to Diana, expressing his disappointment at both Charles's and her extra-marital affairs, and asking her to examine both his and her behaviour from the other's point of view.[60] The Duke was direct and Diana was sensitive.[61] She found the letters hard to take, but nevertheless she appreciated that he was acting with good intent.[62] Charles and Diana separated and later divorced.

A year after the divorce, Diana was killed in a car crash in Paris on 31 August 1997. At the time, the Duke was on holiday at Balmoral with the extended royal family. In their grief, Diana's two sons, Princes William and Harry, wanted to attend church and so their grandparents took them that morning.[63] For five days, the Queen and the Duke shielded their grandsons from the ensuing press interest by keeping them at Balmoral, where they could grieve in private.[63] The royal family's seclusion caused public dismay,[63] but the public mood was transformed from hostility to respect by a live broadcast made by the Queen on 5 September.[64] Uncertain as to whether they should walk behind her coffin during the funeral procession, Diana's sons hesitated.[64] Philip told William, "If you don't walk, I think you'll regret it later. If I walk, will you walk with me?"[64] On the day of the funeral, Philip, William, Harry, Charles and Diana's brother, Earl Spencer, walked through London behind her bier.

Over the next few years, Mohamed Fayed, whose son Dodi Fayed was also killed in the crash, claimed that Prince Philip had ordered the death of Diana and that the accident was staged. The inquest into the Princess of Wales's death concluded in 2008 that there was no evidence of a conspiracy.[65]

Prince Philip receives a Parliamentary annuity (of £359,000 since 1990[fn 3]) that is used to meet official expenses in carrying out his public duties. The annuity is unaffected by the reform of royal finances under the Sovereign Grant Act 2011.[66][67] Any part of the allowance that is not used to meet official expenditure is liable for tax. In practice, the entire allowance is used to fund his official duties.[68] His personal wealth was estimated at £28 million in 2001.[69]

21st century

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, June 2012

During his wife's Golden Jubilee in 2002, the Duke was commended by the Speaker of the British House of Commons for his role in supporting the Queen during her reign. The Duke of Edinburgh's time as royal consort exceeds that of any other consort in British history;[70] however, Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother (his mother-in-law), who died aged 101, was the consort with the longest lifespan.

In April 2008, Philip was admitted to the King Edward VII Hospital for "assessment and treatment" for a chest infection, though he walked into the hospital unaided and recovered quickly,[71] and was discharged three days later to recuperate at Windsor Castle.[72] In August, the Evening Standard reported that he was suffering from prostate cancer. Buckingham Palace, which usually refuses to comment on rumours of ill health, claimed that the report was an invasion of privacy and issued a statement denying the story.[73] The newspaper retracted the report and admitted it was untrue.[74][75]

In June 2011, in an interview marking his 90th birthday he said that he would now slow down and reduce his duties, stating that he had "done [his] bit".[76] His wife, the Queen, gave him the title Lord High Admiral for his 90th birthday.[77] While staying at the royal residence at Sandringham, Norfolk, on 23 December 2011, the Duke suffered chest pains and was taken to the cardio-thoracic unit at Papworth Hospital, Cambridgeshire, where he underwent successful coronary angioplasty and stenting.[78] He was discharged on 27 December.[79]

On 4 June 2012, during the celebrations in honour of his wife's Diamond Jubilee, Philip was taken from Windsor Castle to the King Edward VII Hospital, London, suffering from a bladder infection.[80][81] He was released from hospital on 9 June.[82] After a recurrence of infection in August 2012, while staying at Balmoral Castle, he was admitted to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary for five nights as a precautionary measure.[83] In June 2013, Philip was admitted to the London Clinic for an exploratory operation on his abdomen, spending 11 days in hospital.[84] On 21 May 2014, the Prince appeared in public with a bandage on his right hand after a "minor procedure" was performed in Buckingham Palace the preceding day.[85]

He is the longest-lived male member of the British royal family. The record for the longest-lived male descendant of Queen Victoria is currently held by Count Carl Johan Bernadotte of Wisborg (the Duke of Connaught's grandson) who lived to be 95 years, 6 months and 5 days old. Prince Philip would surpass this record on 13 December 2016.

Personality and image

File:Her Majesty the Queen at Breakfast.jpg
Her Majesty the Queen at Breakfast painted by Philip in 1957. Biographer Robert Lacey described the painting as "a tender portrayal, impressionistic in style, with brushstrokes that are charmingly soft and fuzzy".[86]

Philip played polo until 1971, when he started to compete in carriage driving, a sport which he helped expand; the early rule book was drafted under his supervision.[87] He was a keen yachts sailor, striking up a friendship in 1949 with Uffa Fox in Cowes. He and the Queen regularly attended Cowes Week in HMY Britannia. His first airborne flying lesson took place in 1952; by his 70th birthday he had accrued 5,150 pilot hours.[88] He was presented with Royal Air Force wings in 1953.[89] In April 2014, it was reported that an old British Pathe newsreel film had been discovered of Philip's 1962 two-month flying tour of South America. Filmed sitting alongside Philip at the aircraft's controls was his co-pilot Peter Middleton, the grandfather of the Duke's granddaughter-in-law, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge.[90]

He has painted with oils, and collected artworks, including contemporary cartoons, which hang at Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, Sandringham House, and Balmoral Castle. Hugh Casson described Philip's own artwork as "exactly what you'd expect ... totally direct, no hanging about. Strong colours, vigorous brushstrokes."[91]

In 1979, when Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip were guests of US President Jimmy Carter, Prince Philip was approached by White House butler Lynwood Westray and another unnamed butler. Westray asked him "Your majesty, would you like a cordial?", and Prince Philip responded, "I'll take one if you'll let me serve you". "Oh my God, this had never happened before," said Westray. "There we were standing there. I was holding the glasses and my buddy was holding the liqueurs and we looked at each other, and I said 'If that's the only way you'll have it, we'll go along with it.' And the prince served us what he was having, and the three of us had a drink and a conversation. It was an honour to let him do it."[92]

Over his sixty years as royal consort, Philip has become famous for making remarks that were often construed as being offensive or stereotypical in nature.[93][94] Some of them were immediately interpreted as gaffes; but other awkward observations were construed by apologists as merely odd, off-colour, and often funny.[95][96][97] In his own words, comments attributed to Prince Philip have contributed to the perception that he is "a cantankerous old sod".[98] The historian David Starkey has described him as a kind of "HRH Victor Meldrew".[99] For example, in May 1999 British newspapers accused Philip of insulting deaf children at a pop concert in Wales by saying, "No wonder you are deaf listening to this row."[100] Later Philip wrote, "The story is largely invention. It so happens that my mother was quite seriously deaf and I have been Patron of the Royal National Institute for the Deaf for ages, so it's hardly likely that I would do any such thing."[101] During a state visit to the People's Republic of China in 1986, in a private conversation with British students from Xi'an's North West University, Philip joked, "If you stay here much longer, you'll go slit-eyed."[102] The British press reported on the remark as indicative of racial intolerance, but the Chinese authorities were reportedly unconcerned. Chinese students studying in the UK, an official explained, were often told in jest not to stay away too long, lest they go "round-eyed".[103] His comment had no effect on Sino-British relations, but it shaped his own reputation.[104]

Philip has been a Freemason since 1953.[105]


Philip died on 9 April 2021, aged 99, two months before his centennial. He was the longest-serving royal consort in British history.[106] The cause of death has not yet been disclosed.[107]

His death starts Operation Forth Bridge, a plan for his funeral which is commensurate with his wish for minimal "fuss".[107][108]

Titles, styles, honours and arms

The Duke of Edinburgh, Colonel-in-Chief of the Royal Canadian Regiment, presenting the 3rd Battalion with their Regimental Colours in April 2013

Philip has held a number of titles throughout his life. Originally holding the title and style of a prince of Greece and Denmark, Philip abandoned these royal titles prior to his marriage, and was thereafter created a British duke, among other noble titles. It was not, however, until the Queen issued Letters Patent in 1957 that Philip was again titled as a prince.[53]

When addressing the Duke of Edinburgh, as with any male member of the royal family except the monarch, the rules of etiquette are to address him the first time as Your Royal Highness, and thereafter as Sir.[109]

Honours and honorary military appointments

Ni-Vanuatu with their pictures of Prince Philip

The Duke of Edinburgh was appointed by King George VI to the Order of the Garter on 19 November 1947, the eve of his wedding. Since then, Philip has received 17 different appointments and decorations in the Commonwealth, and 48 from foreign states. The inhabitants of some villages on the island of Tanna, Vanuatu also worship Prince Philip as a god; the islanders possess portraits of the Duke and hold feasts on his birthday.[110]

Upon his wife's accession to the throne in 1952, the Duke was appointed Admiral of the Sea Cadet Corps, Colonel-in-Chief of the British Army Cadet Force, and Air Commodore-in-Chief of the Air Training Corps.[111] The following year, he was appointed to the equivalent positions in Canada, and made Admiral of the Fleet, Captain General Royal Marines, Field Marshal, and Marshal of the Royal Air Force in the United Kingdom.[112] Subsequent military appointments were made in New Zealand and Australia.[113] On 16 December 2015, his role as Honorary Air Commodore-in-Chief was handed over to the Duchess of Cambridge.

To celebrate his 90th birthday, the Queen appointed him Lord High Admiral of the Royal Navy (the highest rank in the organisation anyone other than the sovereign can hold)[114] and Canada appointed him to the highest ranks available in all three branches of the Canadian Armed Forces.[115]


Arms of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh
Coat of Arms of Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.svg
Following his marriage to Princess Elizabeth until 1949, Prince Philip's arms featured a differenced version of the royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom, derived from his ancestor Princess Alice.[116]

Unlike the arms used by other members of the royal family, the Duke's arms no longer features the royal arms of the United Kingdom, as men are not entitled to bear the arms of their wives. However they do feature elements representing Greece and Denmark, from which he is descended in the male line; the Mountbatten family arms, from which he is descended in the female line; and the City of Edinburgh.

19 November 1947
Issuant from a ducal coronet Or, a plume of five ostrich feathers alternately Sable and Argent;
Mantling Or and ermine
Upon a coronet of a son of the sovereign Proper, the royal helm Or[117]
From 1949:

Quarterly: First Or, semée of hearts Gules, three lions passant in pale Azure (For Denmark), Second Azure, a cross Argent (For Greece), Third Argent, two pallets Sable (For Battenberg or Mountbatten), Fourth Argent, upon a rock Proper a castle triple towered Sable, masoned Argent, windows, port, turret-caps and vanes Gules (For Edinburgh), the whole surrounded by the Garter.[117]

Dexter, a representation of Hercules girt about the loins with a lion skin, crowned with a chaplet of oak leaves, holding in the dexter hand a club Proper (from Greek royal coat of arms); sinister, a lion queue fourchée ducally crowned Or and gorged with a naval coronet Azure;
The Order of the Garter ribbon.
(Shame be to him who thinks evil of it)
The arms of Denmark and Greece, represent the Duke of Edinburgh's familial lineage. The arms of the City of Edinburgh represent Philip's dukedom. The naval crown collar alludes to the Duke's naval career.
Previous versions
Arms of Philip Mountbatten (1947-1949).svg

From 1947 to 1949 "Arms of Greece surmounted by an inescutcheon of the arms of Denmark; and over all in the first quarter the arms of Princess Alice, daughter of Queen Victoria, viz, the Royal Arms differenced with a label of three points argent, the middle point charged with a rose gules and each of the others with an ermine spot. The shield is encircled by the Garter and ensigned with a princely coronet of crosses pattée and fleurs-de-lis, above which is placed a barred helm affronte, and thereon the crest; out of a ducal coronet or, a plume of five ostrich feathers alternately sable and argent. The supporters are, dexter, the figure of Hercules proper, and sinister, a lion queue fourche ducally crowned or, gorged with a naval coronet azure."[116]


Name Birth Marriage Their children Their grandchildren
Date Spouse
Prince Charles, Prince of Wales 14 November 1948 29 July 1981
Divorced 28 August 1996
Lady Diana Spencer Prince William, Duke of Cambridge Prince George of Cambridge
Princess Charlotte of Cambridge
Prince Henry of Wales
9 April 2005 Camilla Parker Bowles
Princess Anne, Princess Royal 15 August 1950 14 November 1973
Divorced 28 April 1992
Mark Phillips Peter Phillips Savannah Phillips
Isla Phillips
Zara Tindall Mia Tindall
12 December 1992 Timothy Laurence
Prince Andrew, Duke of York 19 February 1960 23 July 1986
Divorced 30 May 1996
Sarah Ferguson Princess Beatrice of York
Princess Eugenie of York
Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex 10 March 1964 19 June 1999 Sophie Rhys-Jones Lady Louise Windsor
James, Viscount Severn


Philip is the oldest living great-great-grandchild of Queen Victoria, as well as her oldest living descendant following the death of Count Carl Johan Bernadotte of Wisborg on 5 May 2012. Through his descent from the British royal family, he is in the line of succession to the thrones of the 16 Commonwealth realms.

In July 1993, through mitochondrial DNA analysis of a sample of Prince Philip's blood, British scientists were able to confirm the identity of the remains of several members of Empress Alexandra of Russia's family, several decades after their 1918 massacre by the Bolsheviks. Prince Philip was then one of two living great-grandchildren in the female line of Alexandra's mother Princess Alice of the United Kingdom, the other being his sister Sophie, who died in 2001.

Fictional portrayals

Philip has been portrayed on film by James Cromwell (The Queen, 2006), David Threlfall (The Queen's Sister, 2005) and Stewart Granger (The Royal Romance of Charles and Diana, 1982).[118]

A fictionalised Philip (in his capacity as a World War II naval officer) is a minor character in John Birmingham's Axis of Time series of alternate history novels. Prince Philip also appears as a fictional character in Nevil Shute's novel In the Wet (1952), Paul Gallico's novel Mrs. 'Arris Goes to Moscow, Tom Clancy's novel Patriot Games, and Sue Townsend's novel The Queen and I.[119]

The satirical British television series Spitting Image regularly featured a Prince Philip puppet. His voice was provided by Roger Blake, who reprised the role in Alistair McGowan's regal parody of The Royle Family within his show The Big Impression. Similarly to Spitting Image, Prince Philip repeatedly featured in Headcases alongside the Queen and Kate Middleton.


  • Selected Speeches – 1948–55 (1957)
  • Selected Speeches – 1956–59 (1960)
  • Birds from Britannia (1962) (published in the United States as Seabirds from Southern Waters)
  • Wildlife Crisis with James Fisher (1970)
  • The Environmental Revolution: Speeches on Conservation, 1962–1977 (1978)
  • Competition Carriage Driving (1982) (published in France 1984, second edition 1984, revised edition 1994)
  • A Question of Balance (1982)
  • Men, Machines and Sacred Cows (1984)
  • A Windsor Correspondence with Michael Mann (1984)
  • Down to Earth: Collected Writings and Speeches on Man and the Natural World 1961–87 (1988) (paperback edition 1989, Japanese edition 1992)
  • Survival or Extinction: A Christian Attitude to the Environment with Michael Mann (1989)
  • Driving and Judging Dressage (1996)
  • Thirty Years On, and Off, the Box Seat (2004)

Forewords to:

  • Royal Australian Navy 1911–1961 Jubilee Souvenir issued by authority of the Department of the Navy, Canberra (1961)
  • The Concise British Flora in Colour by William Keble Martin, Ebury Press/ Michael Joseph (1965)
  • Kurt Hahn by Hermann Röhrs and Hilary Tunstall-Behrens (1970)
  • The Art of Driving by Max Pape (1982)
  • National Maritime Museum Guide to Maritime Britain by Keith Wheatley, (2000)
  • The Royal Yacht Britannia: The Official History by Richard Johnstone-Bryden, Conway Maritime Press (2003)
  • 1953: The Crowning Year of Sport by Jonathan Rice, (2003)
  • British Flags and Emblems by Graham Bartram, Tuckwell Press (2004)
  • Chariots of War by Robert Hobson, Ulric Publication (2004)
  • RMS Queen Mary 2 Manual: An Insight into the Design, Construction and Operation of the World's Largest Ocean Liner by Stephen Payne, Haynes Publishing (2014)
  • The Triumph of a Great Tradition: The Story of Cunard's 175 Years by Eric Flounders and Michael Gallagher, Lily Publications (2014)


  1. 1.0 1.1 He was born on 10 June 1921 according to the Gregorian calendar. Until 1 March 1923, Greece used the Julian calendar, in which the date is 28 May 1921.
  2. In 1957, it was established by a ruling in Attorney-General v HRH Prince Ernest Augustus of Hanover [1957] 1 All ER 49, that all descendants of Sophia of Hanover, including Philip, were already naturalised British subjects under the terms of the Sophia Naturalization Act 1705.
  3. The amount was set by the Civil List (Increase of Financial Provision) Order 1990. It was initially set at £40,000 in the Civil List Act 1952, raised to £65,000 by the Civil List Act 1972, and raised to £165,000 by the Civil List (Increase of Financial Provision) Order 1984.


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Further reading

External links

Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh
Born: 10 June 1921
British royalty
Preceded by
Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon
as queen consort
Consort of the British monarch
6 February 1952 – present
Academic offices
Preceded by
The Marquess of
Chancellor of the University of Edinburgh
Succeeded by
The Princess Royal
New institution Chancellor of the University of Salford
Succeeded by
The Duchess of York
Preceded by
The Lord Adrian
Chancellor of the University of Cambridge
Succeeded by
The Lord Sainsbury of Turville
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Queen Mary
Grand Master of the Order of the British Empire
24 March 1953 – present
Preceded by
King George VI
Air Commodore-in-Chief of the Air Training Corps
Succeeded by
The Duchess of Cambridge
Military offices
Preceded by
Queen Elizabeth II
Lord High Admiral
10 June 2011 – present
Lines of succession
Preceded by
India Hicks
Line of succession to the British throne
(descended from Alice, daughter of Queen Victoria)
Succeeded by
The Hereditary Prince of Baden
Order of precedence
Preceded by
The Sovereign
Order of precedence in England and Wales,
Scotland and Northern Ireland
Followed by
The Prince of Wales,
Duke of Rothesay